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An obituary for Major Manish Pitambare

By Shailesh Dhuri
November 28, 2006 16:29 IST
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This morning, when I read the news on of an Army Major killed in Kashmir, my attention was more on the headline news of the death of a most wanted militant, than on the fate of the army major. However, within minutes, the news became personal, as my mother called on my handphone. She sounded worried, and I feared for her health. However, the news that she told was shocking. She said Manish was no more.

My neighbour's son and a good friend, Manish decided to join the Armed Forces after his SSC. A bright, proud, young fellow, he was driven by passion to serve his motherland when he took this unconventional decision. The decision was really brave, because he had scored nearly 90 per cent marks in his SSC examination, and the world of opportunities was open to him in civilian life.

Following his heart he went on to join the National Defence Academy in Pune, and thereafter went to join the Army. Our paths separated at that time, as I went on to join the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, soon afterwards and both of us would not see each other for years together.

I was very proud of him, and envious of him. Envious because, as a kid I wanted to join the Armed Forces, but could not do so because of my polio-affected left hand. As a small kid, I always thought that God was cruel to me for he had stopped me from serving my motherland directly and in the noblest manner.

Manish was a brave officer, always leading his team from the front. I think he was 1975-born, and he was already a Major in the Army. When I last met him a few years ago, he was posted in Kashmir – I asked him why don't you take a transfer outside Kashmir. He said his country needs him the most there. I again felt proud and envious of him.

Today, when his soul has left us because of a bullet from a mad terrorist, I have a few thoughts to share with the world.

Firstly, for how long are we, the Citizens of India, going to silently suffer in this war of one thousand cuts carried out in proxy by the Government of Pakistan? How many more sacrifices of young and bright sons of this land like Manish do we want before we say enough is enough? When are we going to press the Government of India to take strong action against this issue?

Secondly, I read reports of shortage of good officers in the Armed Forces. I fear that if a society does not want its brightest young lads to join the Armed Forces and serve the nation, the society will lose its independence, sooner or later. We have repeated this mistake in the past, and we are repeating it again. All the talk of India emerging on a global economic scene can come to a quick halt if our political adversaries are able to weaken our Armed Forces. I fear this is already happening, and we need to reverse the trend.

I want the readers of to devote a minute of their life thinking about the brave Army Officer who laid down his life today so that we can live and enjoy our life with our families. Also, I want readers to think about the two issues that I have shared with you and tell the world what you think about this.

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Shailesh Dhuri